Christiana Vardakou Textile Research Trip Blog, Laos and Thailand

Can’t believe this is the last blog post of the South East Asia Textile Research trip I did last autumn. 

Part of me feels like I was there yesterday and another part feels like it was years ago, mostly because so much has changed since I came back. 

After Myanmar I went back to Vientiane, Laos. Even though there isn’t much to see there and the accommodation is TERRIBLE, I wanted to go back to learn how to set up the loom and create my own pattern. Houey Hong Vocational Training Centre for Women is an amazing place with the friendliest artisans and staff. I was there in October and I did a natural dyeing course and ikat weaving class. You can read more about them and about Vientiane here. 

This time I stayed for a week, doing an intense six day weaving class. I learnt how to set up a traditional Laos loom which took me a day and a half, and then I learnt how to copy a pattern, set it up on a loom and weave it. I made a small table runner, using naturally dyed silk

Here are some photos of the process


After Vientiane, I went back to Bangkok for two nights. I was flying from Bangkok back to London. It was my second time here as well, however I decided to go for two days to see a friend, go to my favourite bakery and also visit the floating markets which I didn’t have time to do last time I was there. 

I stayed in a really nice airbnb, the hosts were lovely and the apartment was close to my favourite Landhaus Bakery, in a nice area, close to the underground. 

While I was in Bangkok this time, I didn’t have a plan of what I was going to do.  I walked around the area I was staying at, I went to Landhaus for breakfast, I visited two malls to buy some stuff I needed for my flight back. One of them was the Central Embassy building, which is a mall that has the most amazing bookshop on the top floor. It’s a mix of a gallery, bookshop and coffeeshop. I loved it there and stayed for a whole afternoon. I also did a massage while I was in one of the two malls, to relax and get ready for the eighteen hour flight I had the next day. I also went for dinner with Krista, a friend I met in Vientiane in October and who I also saw in Chiang Mai at the lantern festival. It was a relaxed two days, which was exactly what I needed before flying back to London and reality. 

I also visited theCommons - an amazing place that works as a gathering ground. Even though it is in central Bangkok it feels like it’s not, and getting there you immediately feel close to nature. The aim of theCommons is to “promote wholesome living and a true sense of community”. There is a market where you can eat food from all over the world, from Japanese ramen, to tacos, to poke bowls and Napoli standard pizzas. Except from food there are shops, vintage stores, record stores, florists, hair saloons, the best coffee (roots at theCOMMON), cocktail bars, etc. There is also a Play Yard with playgrounds for both children and adults. The people that I saw here were a mix of all ages and of all cultures. Tourists, locals and people that have moved to Bangkok for work from all over the world. It’s a happy place, full of opportunities. Workshops, get togethers, parties and lectures — something is always happening here! I definitely recommend you visit. 

For my last day in Bangkok (my flight was at night) I arranged to go for a floating market visit. Here are some photos of what I saw while on this boat tour: 

Tob was the host of this experience. He and his wife own a canal boat and love to take it out on weekends for a local market run. There were another 6 people also taking the tour. Tob was really nice and friendly, telling us about his background but also about the markets, Thai culture, food and customs. We saw many different types of markets along the canals as well as how local people spend their weekend around these canals. We tried many different fruits that Tob recommended and also had lunch. Tob recommend different foods to try and everything was excellent. I really recommend doing something like this while you are in Bangkok. You see a different side of Bangkok this way and it’s very unique. The whole experience lasted four hours.

This photo is a collection of the fabrics I naturally dyed, hand-wove and embroidered while I was in Asia these three and a half months. 

This trip was eye-opening for me and I will always remember it and everything I learnt. My trip lasted exactly 100 days, I took five buses, twenty one planes, I spent hours on scooters, cars, boats and motorbikes.  I took part in twenty amazing textile workshops in weaving, natural dyeing, embroidery, batik, bamboo weaving, macrame, embellishment and spinning and I loved every moment of them. I visited seven countries: Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar

I had the best time travelling, I met amazing people, and learnt so so so much. This trip was exactly what I needed, and it made me feel stronger and much surer of what I want to do and how to continue my adventure with textiles...

Even though I shared everything I learnt and saw while I was in Asia, I will continue writing my blog. This trip helped me realise what I want to do, which was to start my own textile studio in Athens, Greece. From now on I will be sharing my experiences from Athens. I will keep writing about textile history, textile processes and all the  new things I’m learning in Greece. Hopefully, you will follow my journey and learn facts about textiles, processes and techniques but also how much love goes into making something!

More coming soon!



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